Buffs trim Bethel in emotional match
Photo by John Bryant
Milligan’s Justin Fuller turns loose a kick as Bethel’s Sean Fraser looks on.
By Wes Holtsclaw
Overcoming some obstacles off the field from the opposite bench, the Milligan College Buffaloes kept their composure.
It was composure that gave the squad an edge in the second overtime of Friday's match against Bethel College.
The Buffs missed two shots early in the 10-minute period before Alex Kimani intercepted a kick and found Steven Townley between two defenders. Townley drew Bethel goalie Andrew Pennycook off guard and scored his match-clinching, second goal to win 2-1 at Anglin Field.
Milligan completed its homecoming weekend with a second victory, a 3-0 decision over Cumberland University, to improve to 11-5-1 on the season.
Friday's physical match saw players from both sides leave the field in a bloody, muddy mess.
"It was one of those games that gives you a headache, but it's good to be on the winning end," said Milligan coach Marty Shirley. "Bethel's a good team and we'll see them again in the region tournament. It was a good team effort, and it was our first overtime win this season."
"I appreciate the integrity out of our guys on the field before overtime and after the match," he said. "I couldn't get the Bethel coach to shake my hand. That's disappointing. But it was an important win."
After the end of regulation, Bethel's coach tried to withdraw his team, which was raging with profanities, from the match. However, the team continued play instead of taking a forfeit.
Bethel had four shots go in opposite directions during the first overtime period. Time quickly ran out to set up the second 10-minute frame.
Milligan opened on fire, with Townley setting up Kofi Frimany, who shot it over the goal.
Then David Lilly went right and missed, while Townley got a second effort off his head which wound up out of bounds. He later redeemed himself with the game-clinching goal.
"Before the last overtime, I told the team to give it to me and something would happen," Townley said. "I got a phenomenal ball from Kimani, who put it through two defenders. I didn't see it hit the net, I just started running and saying hi to people. I knew it was in."
"It was a typical wet-field day, but it was a good, old fashioned game - the way it should be."
After the match, Bethel stormed off in an unsportsmanlike manner, not cleaning its bench or shaking hands.
Bethel opened the game with the lead at the seventh minute of the contest after a Javier Figueroa goal. Townley followed suit 28 minutes in to tie things up.
The Buffaloes had a hard time defending Bethel's Kevin Legerton, who had two shots on goal.
Credit must be given to goalie Jordan Fode, who recored eight saves.
Lilly and Caleb Bollman each added two shots in Friday's match for Milligan.
The first half saw both teams unable to put a score on the board.
Early in the second half, senior Ali Mohamed scored an unassisted goal in the fifty-fifth minute to give the Buffs a 1-0 lead.
It didn't take Milligan long to strike again as freshman Stuart Makinson scored a goal with an assist from Kimani in the sixty-third minute.
The final goal of the match came in the eighty-ninth minute once again from Mohamed on a breakaway.
The starting goalkeeper for Milligan, Joel Wanyoike, had two saves while Fode recorded four saves coming off the bench for the Buffs.
"It was a really good win, after the emotional win last night," Shirley said. "I am proud of well we are playing."
Next for the Buffs is a key Appalachian Athletic Conference match up as Covenant (Ga.) College visits Anglin Field Tuesday, Oct. 26 for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff in the regular-season finale.
The match will decide the AAC Regular Season Champion as Covenant is currently ranked number one in the conference while Milligan is third, with a chance to win the regular season title with a victory over Covenant.
The Milligan College Lady Buffs soccer team was defeated by NAIA Region XI Cumberland (Tenn.) University on Saturday on homecoming weekend. With the results, the Lady Buffs move to 8-9-1 on the season.
Cumberland scored its lone goal in the ninth minute.
Next for the Lady Buffs is the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament. The tournament begins Oct. 26, with the bracket to be announced early in the upcoming week.